Vermont Legislature

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Looking up at the golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse on a cloudy day.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Money for the session runs out on Saturday, but adjournment looks very uncertain because there are a number of major disputes looming between Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic leaders at the Vermont Statehouse.

Gov. Phil Scott says an anti-racism bill passed by the Legislature contains an unconstitutional provision. But though he vetoed the bill, he says he'll move forward voluntarily with an almost identical initiative.
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

On Monday, the Vermont Senate gave its unanimous approval to legislation that backers hope will significantly reduce sexual harassment in the workplace.

Gov. Phil Scott listens Monday as economists deliver the latest revenue forecast. Scott wants to use this year's budget surplus to buy down property tax rates next year. Democratic lawmakers say the money can be put to better uses.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Elected officials in Montpelier learned Monday they’ll end the fiscal year with a $44 million budget surplus. But the unexpected windfall hasn’t ended the acrimony between Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic lawmakers.

The House chamber of the Vermont Legislature
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Democratic lawmakers in Vermont have been working hard on two big policy initiatives this session. One bill would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The other would establish a paid family and medical leave program for most employees.

But as the end of the session nears, both of those bills may suddenly be in jeopardy.

Millard Cox, of Ripton, speaks at a public hearing in the Vermont Statehouse in January. Cox is among the health care reform advocates urging the Legislature to adopt a publicly funded system for universal primary care.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

It’s been more than three years since then-Gov. Peter Shumlin abandoned his pledge to create a universal health care system in Vermont, but advocates are working this session to reignite the embers of the single-payer flame.

Lawmakers hold up the "Honor and Remember" flag during a bill signing ceremony Thursday. The flag will honor Vermonters who died as a result of their military service.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermonters who died as a result of their military service will soon have a new flag flying in their honor.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Tim Ashe have a plan to avoid a government shutdown on July 1st if lawmakers are still at an impasse with Governor Phil Scott over property tax rates
Meg Malone / VPR File

With a vote of 141 to 2, the Vermont House has given its strong support to a bill that's designed to significantly reduce the cost of expensive prescription drugs.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Westminster Democrat says he won't seek re-election this year, after nearly 30 years serving in the Vermont House. 

According to campaign finance disclosures, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has raised more than twice as much money toward his 2018 reelection bid than any of the other four candidates challenging him for the office.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Administration officials say Gov. Phil Scott will unveil a plan Tuesday to plug a nearly $60 million hole in the state’s education fund.

Democratic lawmakers say they have a plan to avoid a government shutdown, in the event they can't reach a deal with Gov. Phil Scott over property taxes. But Scott says he needs to see more details.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

An eleventh-hour push to resurrect legislation that would have created a legal market for retail marijuana sales fizzled out Friday, but many elected officials say it’s only a matter of time before Vermont decides to tax and regulate cannabis.

Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders are still at odds over key budget issues, including an estimated $58 million needed for education funding.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

Lawmakers are working on finalizing a budget in the closing weeks of the legislative session, but key disagreements on school funding and other programs have yet to be resolved. We're looking at how the state budget is taking shape and where lawmakers and Gov. Scott's administration disagree.

Winooski Rep. Diana Gonzalez says it looks like the House has enough votes right now to pass a bill that would create a taxed-and-regulated market for retail cannabis sales.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A surprise twist in the Statehouse Thursday afternoon has the issue of marijuana legalization suddenly on the front burner in Montpelier again.

Democratic lawmakers say they have a plan to avoid a government shutdown, in the event they can't reach a deal with Gov. Phil Scott over property taxes. But Scott says he needs to see more details.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The Vermont House has failed to override Governor Phil Scott’s veto of a bill that would have tightened regulations on toxic chemicals used in children’s products.

Commissioner of Finance Adam Greshin, right, and Brad James from the Agency of Education, second from right, brief lawmakers Monday on a plan that would try to reduce payroll costs in public schools by penalizing districts with higher staffing levels.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The Scott administration unveiled a new plan Monday to curb costs in the public education system by cutting payroll in local schools.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backs bill to expand domestic terrorism law to deal with cases like the alleged incident at Fair Haven Union High School
Angela Evancie / VPR

The Vermont Senate has given unanimous approval to legislation that updates the state's domestic terrorism laws as a way to help thwart future mass shootings.

 A gun rally drew more than a thousand people to Montpelier Saturday; some came in part to pick up a free high capacity magazine that will be banned under new legislation.
John Dillon / VPR File

A constitutional challenge of Vermont’s new ban on high-capacity magazines will hinge less on the Second Amendment than on Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Tim Ashe have a plan to avoid a government shutdown on July 1st if lawmakers are still at an impasse with Governor Phil Scott over property tax rates
Meg Malone / VPR File

Lawmakers were busy this week considering different ways to change Vermont's criminal justice laws in an effort to thwart future cases of mass violence.

And new information has emerged as to why former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe resigned earlier this month.

Julia Adams, a social studies teacher at Fair Haven Union High School, asked the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday the change the definition of what it means to "attempt" a crime.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As Fair Haven Union High School prepares for the possible release of the teenager who allegedly planned to inflict mass casualties at the school, students from the school are asking lawmakers to update criminal statutes they say should have kept him behind bars.

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears is looking to modify Vermont's domestic terrorism laws as a way to deal with future cases of violence
Angela Evancie / VPR File

After a Vermont Supreme Court ruling last week said Jack Sawyer could not be held without bail because his actions did not constitute "an attempt" to commit a crime, the Senate Judiciary Committee is exploring the state's domestic terrorism law as a way to charge similar crimes in the future.

Illustration of a hand holding a dollar sign between thumb and forefinger.
mhatzapa / iStock.com

The Vermont Senate has approved legislation that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history. Backers say it would help reduce the pay gap between men and women.

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